I like to think of myself as a pretty honest person. The whole not stealing, not lying and staying out of shady business stuff – I’ve got that. And those who know me well would probably say that I like to keep it real. But when it comes to being deeply truthful about how I feel – like put your whole heart out there for the world to see – honestly, I’m not always the best at that.
As long as I can remember I’ve felt this pressure to have it all together, or at least to appear that I do. Admitting when things aren’t okay is hard no matter what the situation, but I’ve found it especially challenging growing up in the church. As a Christian, I’ve always been told that when the tough times come knocking, my response should be to pray, trust God, keep the faith, and God will make everything alright. The reality is that sometimes things don’t feel like they’ll ever be right again.
Last fall I witnessed the tragic death of an infant. Well, not just witnessed it. I wish it was that simple. I performed CPR on the little girl, tried desperately to bring her back to life. I was unsuccessful.
For the next few months I felt hollow. I was trying to put on a happy face and go through the motions, but underneath this cheerful facade I was experiencing a palpable grief – the kind that aches and throbs at a soul level. My normal way of rationalizing things, that this was part of God’s bigger plan, made hot waves of anger wash over me. If God is so good how could he let something so devastatingly horrible happen?
I was furious with Him, but I felt guilty saying so.
Did this mean I didn’t really have faith in God’s promises? Or was grappling with God my way of showing that this was worth the fight? Should I really admit that I wasn’t okay? Or should I put on a brave face for those around me? Why was it taking so long to feel whole again? Shouldn’t I have come to accept God’s plan by now? Was I a doubter if I hadn’t?
I found myself entering into a fight to follow Jesus. I learned some extremely hard, but essential lessons along the way.
I shared those lessons in a piece that was recently published in RELEVANTMagazine, a publication for young adults who are seeking God and striving to impact the world around them. It’s chock full of stories that challenge and inspire me, and it’s also the first place any of my work has been published beyond these hallowed walls. Please go check it out!
A year later I’d like to say that horrific accident is a distant memory, it’s all behind me and if I can face it so can you.
But I can’t.
My breath still catches when I think about that night. It took me months to share my story because I was waiting for that moment when I could present it with a big red bow on top, saying I had conquered it all and that I’d come to accept what had happened. But I realized doing so would be playing into my lifelong misconception that I have to be perfect, or at least as close as possible, before I could be “honest.”
That’s pride, and it’s ugly.
It also doesn’t help anyone. So I’m sharing my story in the hopes that being transparent about my struggle will help others. My prayer is that someone who’s wrestling with what it means to walk in faith in the midst of suffering and grief, or someone who finds themselves fighting the pressures of perfection will read this and accept a little extra dose of God’s grace today. Because sometimes you’re just not okay, and that’s okay.
Check out Wrestling With God Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Have Faith at RelevantMagazine.com.